A 75-year-old Bolton woman said herself and other residents are ‘up in arms’ after their housing association increased communal heating prices from £12 to £40 a week.

Dott Corr, who lives in Tonge Moor, said residents on Rossall Close were left feeling ‘frightened’ after Bolton at Home said they may increase prices up to £80 a week.

In April it was confirmed prices would be increased to £40 a week due to rises in energy costs over the last 12-months.

And Dot said the ‘increase is extortionate’.

Dot said: “It isn’t just me that this is affecting, it is the whole street.

“I have been contacting Bolton at Home about the issue for all the residents since March and all we are getting is this can’t be done, and we can’t do that, and it is just going on and on and on.

“And whilst we are waiting for all of this, we continue to get charged every week.

“The thing is we don’t even use the heating because these flats are so hot that you just don’t need it, there are pipes running from the communal boiler so all the flats from top to bottom are warm because if someone puts the heating on at the bottom of the stairs, we get the hot water running through our house.

“I have lived here 14 years, and our heating charge has never changed. I thought we were already overpaying for it at £12 because we don’t use it and, in the summer, we have to use AC units and fans just to feel comfortable in our houses.

“This is because the heat in summer is unbearable.

“When the utility prices went up, we had a letter from Bolton at Home saying they were doing a survey and that our heating could go up to £80 a week, between £40 and £80 a week, well everyone was frightened then because how can you afford to pay £80 a week on a pension?

“It is impossible, so I wrote back saying people wanted fewer hours of heating meaning turning the boilers off at certain times to cut the costs.

“So, they decided to charge us £40 a week with fewer boiler hours and people weren’t happy about it, none of us were.

“I wrote to Edward Mellor who is the director of finance, and he wrote back to me and said this may be the last year we would have to pay for communal heating and since then nothing has come of it.

“I have been ignored since around April or May, I have been writing backwards and forwards to Bolton at Home and they have not given us any answers to the questions or concerns we have raised.

“Because I have bombarded them with letters, they said they would have a meeting with us next week on November 15, but they still haven’t given us answers to our questions.

“The increase is extortionate; I have lived here 14 years and I have used my heating three times in that time and after an hour I have had to turn them off because it is too hot.

“We are paying through the nose because we are a cash cow for Bolton at Home, it is not fair, and it is not right.

“Nobody is happy, everybody is up in arms at paying this amount of money because the people who live here, they are either disabled, elderly or vulnerable.

“They are bleeding us dry.”

Edward Mellor, Bolton at Home’s Executive Director of Finance, said: “We understand our tenants’ concerns over the increases in energy costs over the last 12-months.

“We know this is a particular issue for homes served by traditional communal boiler systems and some of our tenants did see a significant rise in their heating charges, compared to what they were used to paying, from April this year following a consultation.

“Previously, we absorbed the marginal increases in the cost of heating tenants’ homes with communal systems, but the increases of the 12-months have been on an unprecedented scale, and we simply could no longer continue to do this without passing on more of the cost to tenants.

“The increases have not been passed on in full and we continue to absorb a proportion of these costs.

“We are working on long-term solutions to ensure the various communal heating systems are efficient and provide tenants with individual billing for their energy use.

"This will take time to deliver across our housing schemes, and we need to ensure the technology will meet future regulations and provide ongoing value for money for tenants.

“We have consulted and communicated fully with tenants throughout this time as we have explored different ways to reduce their energy costs, while maintaining their warmth and comfort, and we will continue to do so.

"We always urge tenants with any money worries to contact us for support on 01204 328000.”

Bolton at Home has arranged a meeting for all the residents on Rossall Close on November 15 which was already arranged before The Bolton News spoke to Dot Corr and Bolton at Home.

If you have a story or something you would like to highlight in the community, please email me at chloe.wilson@newsquest.co.uk or DM me on X @chloewjourno.